Brian May Signature Tremolo Project

tenchijin2

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Some of you may be interested in this. I like to tinker although my tinkering is generally in the realm of metalworking and electronics (very simple stuff). But I've had the urge for some time to convert my Red Special from the factory supplied strat-style tremolo system to the more "authentic" knife-edge style that Mr. May built into his guitar. Here's what the guitar looked like originally:
v7q0acsydrw3ubtr2k1h.jpg


And after purchasing an aftermarket knife edge tremolo set made for this conversion, I set about routing and otherwise working the guitar body as needed. I installed the bridge. Then I built the pick guard and the tremolo cavity cover and here it is so far:
finished.jpg
 

tenchijin2

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I made a fair number of mistakes on this project. In fact, I need to completely remake the pick guard- it cracked behind the bridge, which you can see if you look closely in the picture. The material is acrylic, so it's prone to cracking. I tried a second time but cracked that one even before finishing it. So I've got some more material on the way, and I'll try again! Fortunately it's not too expensive.

Also, I accidentally drilled a hole outside the pickguard, also behind the bridge. Fairly obvious in the photo. The other dissatisfaction I have is with the accuracy of the slots for the switches, and the cut away for the neck. It's really tough to do that! I'm going to take more time and see if I can get them more accurate next time.
 

tenchijin2

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Very cool! Have you thought about filling the trem cavity? That might help with the cracking PG.
Adapter Block for TMB3 > Store > Hipshot Products
276.jpg

Yes, in fact, I did fill the trem cavity and the original pick up cavities.

The cracking occurred from slightly overtightening the screw there at that location. Even with a decent countersink, acrylic is just fragile in that respect. Unfortunately I didn't realize just how gentle I needed to be with those screws on acrylic until it was too late. Next time I'll be prepared though.
 

tenchijin2

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Some photos of the process:
 

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MattCartwright

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Looks absolutely great, just pop on some pickup surrounds and it'll look even closer to the original!
 

Custom53

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I would like to try it but I don't really trust myself doing it..

 

SGeoff

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it looks like you moved the location of the bridge, tho. any trouble getting the intonation on?
 

tenchijin2

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it looks like you moved the location of the bridge, tho. any trouble getting the intonation on?

The bridge is in the same place, but the tremolo unit sits way behind the bridge. In other words, the distance from nut to string saddle hasn't changed. The bridge was originally a floating strat-style, and was replaced with a Wilkinson roller bridge. I did have to be very careful about placing the bridge but once I placed it I had no trouble with intonation. Just measure and drill carefully!
 

Kezia

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I had 2 BMG Red Specials and it always bothered me how inauthentic the trem was, dude that looks great!
 

tenchijin2

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So now I've decided to upgrade further. I bought a set of Adeson Tri sonics from a seller here on MLP. Then I figured I should finally get the pickguard properly made, as the one I made is a bit sloppy and it bugs me.
So I also went ahead and bought the white slide switches, and some more authentic aluminum control knobs. Then I bought a switch mount plate from Nigel Knight. Currently I have Terrapin Guitars making a custom pickguard for me based on a modified template CAD drawing that was also sent to me by Nigel.
While I wait, I've installed the Adesons and copper lined the control cavity, as well as wired up the new switches and pots. So, now I wait for the pick guard!
 

Liquid State

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Man - I have always gassed for a Red Special and this is not helping at all. I love that you are going "all in" to do it right. Looking forward to seeing final mods.
 

Winter

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Fantastic! Can't wait to see more pics. Thanks for posting this. I've been thinking of undertaking this as a project myself and it's been great following your progress. Best of luck!
 

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